Tuesday, 4 October 2011

St Francis Feast Survey - Do Animals Go To Heaven?

St Francis preaching to the birds
Today is the feast of St Francis of Assisi, one of the greatest and most popular saints Christendom has ever seen. Both the patron saint of animals and of the environment it's not surprising that he can often seem to be hijacked by hippy's. There is a legend that upon his death bed St Francis thanked his donkey for his years of service, to which the donkey began to cry. I decided it might be fun to ask the question to a few Catholics I know - Do animals go to heaven? The responses are varied! Interestingly the Church does not officially have a normative answer to this question, but it is taught that 1) Jesus did not die for them 2) they do not have eternal souls... some people might still be able to wiggle their way round these obstacles...
Happy Heavenly Hippo.
The answer depends very much upon the question. Animals do not have the same capacity for spiritual communion with their Maker as people do. Animals are purely natural sensory beings, whereas people have a spiritual nature too. This spiritual nature is made for communion with God, but an animal is made to live a simple life of eating, sleeping and so on and has no capacity to be spiritually united with God. It is happy that way for that is the way it is. So the answer to the question of whether animals enter in the beatific vision is no, neither would they want to. On the other hand it would make no sense for God to allow something to disappear forever, because each and every thing which exists and ever existed is some reflection of the invisible being of God. Besides, they also make for peoples' happiness and heaven is perfect bliss. So, in my opinion, I would say that animals will be in heaven, but in their simple animal way, much like they are now on earth and that we will one day, after the great Resurrection of the dead, be once again united with all that we loved on earth, including our pets, plants, friends, family, etc...
Ben Dytor
The question about whether animals go to heaven or not really relies on the answer to the question of whether animals have a soul or not. St Paul says that the whole of creation is destined for liberation, and it is subjected to futility and decay while it awaits with eager longing for the liberation of the children of God (Romans 8). This means that animals, as part of God's creation, will form part of the new heavens and new earth. So animals together with the whole creation will reach the fulfilment of what they were created to be at the end of time. However, this does not mean that they will be personally redeemed, and nor does it mean that they will therefore share in the beatific vision, the communion of love with God, which is the call for human beings, and which the word 'heaven' is used to mean. Jesus did not come to save dogs and cats, but people. In a similar way, the sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament could not bring about the redemption that God-made-man did. Only God-made-man can save men personally. So this means that animals are part of God's plan of salvation, as is the whole of creation, but they are not personally saved and brought into personal communion with God. In a way, this means that the quesion of how we treat animals is not because they have dignity like a human person. The way we treat animals says more about us humans that about the nature of the animals themselves. We should not be cruel to animals not because they have a dignity like humans, but because cruelty to God's creatures reveals something wrong inside ourselves.

Fr Julian Green 

Simple answer: No
Long Answer: the only reason we have entrance to Heaven is due to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, this open the shut gates of Heaven. But not everyone will enter because to enter you need to Love and worship God dedicate you life through him and by doing this you live as he has lived and love as he has loved. It isn't possible for Animals to do this. So they can't. 
Joe Hopkins 
Yeah they do go lol... where else would they go?
Katie Stead 
Animals don't have a soul, thus they cease to exist when they die.
Marco Egawhary


  1. The best online summary: http://www.osv.com/tabid/7631/itemid/785/Do-Animals-Go-to-Heaven.aspx

  2. i especially like

    "One of Lewis' readers once made fun of his speculation that at least some animals might be allowed a heavenly existence. The wag demanded to know: "Where will you put all the mosquitoes?"

    Unperturbed, Lewis replied wryly that, "if the worst came to the worst, a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined." TCA"

  3. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
    and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
    and a little child shall lead them.


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